Cannabis has been legalised in Thailand for medical purposes but it’s still illegal to smoke weed in public. Know the law if you plan to enjoy cannabis products while you’re in Thailand
Mary Jane Cannabis Dispensary, Bangkok, Thailand © Travelhappy
Lots of cannabis dispensaries have opened for business across Bangkok and indeed Thailand. The day the law legalising cannabis in Thailand was confirmed on 9 June 2022, the ubiquitous marijuana leaf symbol seemed to appear outside scores of newly-opened shops.
However, this does not mean that Bangkok has now turned into Amsterdam, despite the plethora of shops bedecked with pot paraphernalia. The use of marijuana for recreational purposes is still illegal.
As the official Tourism Authority of Thailand website states “the new cannabis policies permit production and consumption solely for medical or health-related reasons; not recreational purposes.”
Four Twenty Dispensary, Bangkok, Thailand © Travelhappy
Smoking Marijuana Is Still Illegal In Thailand
So, smoking weed in public in Thailand is still against the law. Anyone sparking up a joint in a public place risks a potential three-month jail sentence and 25,000 Baht fine. Recreational weed smokers in Thailand need to be aware that they can’t light up wherever they want.
The reason marijuana has been legalised in Thailand is to try and become part of the burgeoning international medical marijuana market and the hemp cultivation market. There have already been government initiatives which gave away cannabis seeds to encourage Thais to cultivate cannabis plants. Therefore the cultivation or possession of marijuana cannot be deemed as criminal offences any more.
The kicker is that the law specifies the dispensaries must sell marijuana products that do not have a THC rating of more than 0.2. The THC content is what gives weed its high. The higher the rating, the higher the high.
Dr Green Cannabis Dispensary, Bangkok, Thailand © Travelhappy
THC Content – 0.2 or not 0.2?
There’s all kinds of cannabis products available in Thailand from cannabis seeds to flowers to edibles which focus on the milder CBD compound that can provide medicinal relief.
However, quite how the authorities are planning to regularly test the THC content of every cannabis product in every shop is not yet clear. Pragmatically, it would be wise to not go too hard on any product you buy from a cannabis dispensary just in case it’s stronger than the label suggests.
Beyond that, there’s a big gap in what the law says and what happens in reality. Walk around the bars of Lower Sukhumvit and sooner or later you’ll smell the distinctive sickly sweet smell of marijuana drifting from outside beer gardens and any other designated smoking area. Some businesses have notices actively forbidding patrons from smoking weed on their premises. Others simply tolerate it.
Mobile Cannabis Dispensary, Bangkok, Thailand © Travelhappy
What Happens In Thailand Stays In Thailand
As ever in Thailand, the law has a lot of grey areas and ambiguities. If you want to test out Thailand’s new cannabis products, enjoy, but just be aware of where you are and who might be watching you.
Finally, do not under any circumstances keep any cannabis or hemp products you’ve bought in Thailand in your luggage when you leave the country. Cannabis products are still illegal with severe jail penalties in many other countries. There was the unfortunate case of the Brazilian backpacker who was arrested on arrival in Bali from Bangkok due to having weed products from Thailand in his luggage.
Three useful articles from Asia Democracy Chronicles, the BBC and the Washington Post give context about why Thailand has decided to legalise marijuana for medical use now and the issues with current legislation.